West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Trout Unlimited have released a new report [June 2020] discussing the impact pipeline construction has on rivers and streams. Reducing Impacts of Pipelines Crossing Rivers and Streams notes that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline routes include over 2,600 waterbody crossings in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, including approximately 250 rivers and streams containing species of concern such as native and naturally reproducing trout, anadromous fish and sensitive mussels. The 7-page study discusses the various methods used for pipelines to cross streams and rivers and includes several case studies that document the environmental challenges posed by pipelines crossing water bodies.
Back in January we posted ten reasons why Friends of Nelson opposes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and said you’d be hearing more about them. Now we’re happy to share our slide show on the 10 reasons – use it to help you to explain to family, friends, neighbors, and legislators why you oppose the ACP.
Development of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) was announced June 11  by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The Notice of Intent, published in the Federal Register, is in response to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals action of December 13, 2018 vacating the USFS’s Record of Decision and Special use Permit issued for the ACP. While one of the reasons for the Court’s action – whether the USFS had the authority to authorize the ACP to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST) – is on appeal to and awaiting a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, there were several other issues in question that the SEIS process will focus upon:
- Issues identified in the Court ruling including the potential for the proposal to cause adverse impacts to soil, water, and threatened and Endangered Species Act (ESA) Threatened and Endangered species and their habitat;
- The purpose and impact of the Forest Plan amendments on affected resources (soil, water, ESA Threatened and Endangered species, scenic integrity, ANST, and eligible recreation rivers) and consistency with the Planning Rule;
- The feasibility and practicality of having routes that are not on NFS lands; and,
- A re-evaluation and assessment of erosion, sedimentation, and water quality effects in relation to anticipated mitigation effectiveness.
The USFS Federal Register Notice of Intent states that a draft SEIS will be available in July 2020 and that a final SEIS is anticipated later in 2020. The Notice indicated that when the Draft SEIS is made available there will be information provided about how public comments can be made.
A request from Wild Virginia:
The Trump administration has acted to weaken Virginia’s ability to protect our water from projects like the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.
We need your voice!
Please call Attorney General Mark Herring today at 804-786-2071.
Tell him to challenge an illegal regulation just finalized by the Trump administration to weaken state powers under the Clean Water Act
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has now finalized a change to the regulation governing states’ authorities under section 401 of the Clean Water Act; a portion of the law through which Congress intended to retain historic state authorities over their own environments and to veto or alter federally-licensed projects that would damage their waters and their people.
Last October, Wild Virginia sent this letter to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring urging him to strongly oppose this regulatory change and many of you contacted him as well. We are grateful that AG Herring acted in our interest to preserve Virginia’s authority by joining 23 other states in comments to the EPA opposing this move. Predictably, EPA ignored those comments and others from thousands of citizens across the country, in favor of industry interests who seek to avoid proper environmental regulation.
Now, it’s time for our Attorney General to go to court to defeat EPA’s unlawful action.
Please join us in calling on the Attorney General today! (and thank him for his previous action) As stated in our letter from last year: The Commonwealth of Virginia, since its founding, has a strong history of independence and we must not now defer to the wishes of a President who would trample our rights in favor of fossil fuel companies and others who would despoil our state for profit.
Please take a moment to add your voice and urge Mark Herring to stand up for our right to protect our water 804-786-2071.
On May 28, 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request by the Army Corps of Engineers, Transcanada Keystone Pipeline, and other pipeline companies to reinstate Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP12). This means NWP 12 will remain invalid while the Ninth Circuit considers whether the Montana district court correctly ruled that the Corps violated the Endangered Species Act.
The District Court’s April 15 ruling came in a case challenging the NWP12 permit for the Keystone project and was extended to affect permits for other new oil and natural gas pipelines. The ruling impacts the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, neither of which currently have valid NWP12 permits. At this point, the Corps cannot authorize either the MVP or the ACP to use NWP12 unless and until the Ninth Circuit reverses the Montana district court’s determination that the Corps violated the Endangered Species Act.
From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #277, May 22, 2020:
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been urged to uphold a Federal District Court in Montana’s ruling prohibiting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP12) program from issuing new permits for oil and natural gas pipelines. The District Court’s April 15 ruling came in a case challenging the NWP12 permit for the Keystone project and was extended to affect permits for other new oil and natural gas pipelines. The ruling impacts the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, neither of which currently have valid NWP12 permits.
In a May 20, 2020 brief filed with the Court, the Northern Plains Resource Council, a Montana-based conservation group, argued that Army Corps had failed to evaluate the cumulative impact on endangered species of all projects under the NWP12 and that the agency should have completed a programmatic review under the Endangered Species Act before reauthorizing the program for a five-year term beginning in 2017. The case is before the Ninth Circuit on appeal by the Army Corps and industry groups that are asking the Appeals Court to overturn the District Court’s freeze of the NWP12 program until the case is decided the issues. For a copy of the brief, click here.